US Should Not Sell F-35 Jets to Turkey Unless It Drops Russian System, American General Says
The top US general in Europe said on Tuesday that he would recommend that the United States should not sell Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 jets to NATO ally Turkey if Ankara does not drop plans to buy S-400 surface-to-air missile defense systems from Russia.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said it is committed to buying the Russian system, despite warnings from the US-led alliance that the S-400s cannot be integrated into the NATO air defense system.
“My best military advice would be that we don’t then follow through with the F-35, flying it or working with an ally that’s working with Russian systems, particularly air defense systems, with what I would say is probably one of most advanced technological capabilities,” US Army General Curtis Scaparrotti, the head of US forces in Europe, said during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing. Scaparrotti is also the NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe.
US officials have said that if Turkey proceeds with the S-400 purchase, Washington will withdraw its offer to sell a $3.5 billion Raytheon Co Patriot missile package.
Last month, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Ankara’s purchase of Russia’s S-400 missile defense system was a done deal.